Following Russell Wilson Around The World
An underdog quarterback is the perfect hero to bring prominence to an obscure sports city. I’ve been excited about this 5’10” 5/8 undersized quarterback named Russell Wilson since he was the 75th pick last year’s draft. This too-small quarterback is proving to the NFL’s East Coast biased media that the Seattle Seahawks are legit. I’m fired up about it – even as I travel around the world.
Over the past 50 years, Seattle has won only a single championship in any major league sport, the 1979 Supersonics. Obviously that NBA title didn’t mean much. 30 years later the Sonics were stolen by Oklahoma City.
During the late 1990s/early 2000s, the Mariners had a brief period of being competitive. These teams had star players like Ken Griffey Jr. and Ichiro Suzuki – yet zero titles. The Seahawks made a Super Bowl appearance in 2006. The Seahawks almost won, despite playing against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the referees!
The sad fact remains that the tremendous city of Seattle has a single championship. Boston, on the other hand, has had 7 sports titles since 2002: Patriots 01, 03, 04, Red Sox 04, 07, Celtics 08, Bruins 11. Seattle is desperate for a sports hero to lead them to Titletown.
Every expert has called Russell Wilson too short. Conventional wisdom in the NFL states that successful quarterbacks must be taller than 6’2”. A 6’0” Super Bowl champ like Drew Brees is the outlier. Surely a 5’10” 5/8 quarterback has zero chance of leading his team to a championship.
Wilson knows that his height makes him a lifelong underdog. He knows that he is a winner. He has become outstanding at every intangible. His work ethic is unmatched. He shows up every morning at 6:30 AM to study film and is the last player to leave the team facilities. He has stated “the separation is in the preparation” so much that he has made it his own personal cliche.
Wilson is a great leader. Before games he walks through the Seahawks locker room, shaking hands with every player. During the game, he maintains the same calm facial expression if the Seahawks are up 34 – 14 or down 24 – 10. In post-game interviews, Wilson deflects any personal praise toward the team. He concludes those interviews by looking into the TV cameras and shouting, “Go Hawks!”
These leadership qualities are exceptional for a 43-year-old senator, let alone for a 24-year-old rookie quarterback. Russell Wilson is an old-soul.
Wilson’s story is fun to compare to the movie The Hobbit. There is a video mash-up of The Hobbit’s trailer overlapped with Wilson/Seahawk clips. Wilson is short and stealthy like Bilbo Baggins. He leads a pack of rag-tag of Seahawks – who like the dwarfs – are a bunch of misshaped and oddly sized players. Indeed, the 49ers are the Dark Side. After listening to the head coach in an interview, few would dispute that Jim Harbaugh is slightly possessed by evil. And seeing middle linebacker Patrick Willis with a blacked-out visor and muscles-on-top-of-muscles physic tells me that he has to be an Orc.
Typically when I’m traveling, I prefer to follow local media. This time in Europe, I’ve changed my news source from PBS and NYTimes to the BBC. Instead of watching most American sports, I’ve been following the English Premium League.
But like I said earlier, there is something special about these Seahawks lead by Russell Wilson. Every Sunday my top priority is watching the Seahawks.
When I lived in Panama, I turned off my phone during Seahawks games. While watching the NFL at my friend’s house in Costa Rica, the single TV had on the Jets playing the Jaguars. This did not worry me because I came prepared. I sat in the corner near the Christmas tree while watching the Seahawks blow out the Cardinals on my streaming laptop.
In Guatemala, I arrived at the airport 6 hours early to attempt to change my flight to Houston. Houston’s airport has a fantastic VIP lounge equipped with high-speed internet ideal for streaming the game. Even though the early flight had seats available and I was a platinum member, I was not allowed to board. They said it was because I was flying with points. Screw You, United Airlines!
In England, I drank a pot of caffeinated tea awaiting the 1 AM kickoff vs the 49ers. After kickoff, adrenalin kept me up to see the Seahawks spank their arch rival. In Wales, I sat downstairs in the kitchen of the guesthouse long after midnight to watch the Seahawks vs Redskins game. The kitchen had the strongest internet signal. I screamed like a little girl as the Seahawks overcame a 14 – 0 deficit to advance further in the playoffs.
The upcoming playoff game with Atlanta has affected my travel plans as well. I’m staying an extra night in Wales’ capital city of Cardiff (quite lovely actually) and delaying my trip back to London. The Cardiff hostel has superb internet signal. I’m unsure of the wifi situation in the London hotel. I can’t be compromised.
To those of you with no interest in the Seahawks/NFL, do yourself a favor. Keep an eye on my boy, Russell Wilson. Its a story that extends beyond the game of football. Every week that Wilson wins, it’s another victory for the underdog. Every step that the Seahawks take towards winning a Super Bowl is a ray of hope for America’s most deserving sports city. Go Hawks!